The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

July 7, 2013

Survey results show significant improvement in customer service

Sunday, July 7, 2013 — RALEIGH – Results of a recent customer service survey reveal a significant improvement in how responsive and helpful people believe the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is today compared to 2011.


The online survey conducted in May by staff in the state environmental agency found a 20 percent improvement overall in how customers think the agency is performing its customer service function. The data from this year’s customer service survey came from 371 people, 83 percent more than took a similar survey in 2011. A comparison between the two surveys and more results from the 2013 survey are available at:


“The results of the survey are an encouraging first step in our efforts to improve customer service in DENR,” said N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Secretary John Skvarla.

“Many more people from a broader area of North Carolina took our survey, and what they’re telling us is ‘you’re doing a better job at helping the public.’”


The 2013 survey shows across-the-board improvements in how DENR scored in nine categories for assistance, including seeking new permits and environmental assistance. Taken as a whole, average ratings improved from around 3.24 in 2011 to 4.0 in 2013. The results also identified some areas for improvement. Questions added to the 2013 survey showed that DENR needs to make its website easier to use and more helpful. In response, Secretary Skvarla has made refining the website a priority project for the department.


“DENR employees interact with the public daily in a variety of ways, including writing permits, conducting inspections, teaching people about the environment, providing technical assistance to businesses and giving tours of North Carolina’s aquariums and parks,”  said Joe Harwood, the department’s ombudsman. “This survey enables us to measure changes since the last survey and identify areas for improvement.”


DENR distributed the survey by email to a wide array of people, including individuals and groups with whom the department frequently interacts, from every corner of the state. Nearly 57 percent of the people who responded to the 2013 survey were DENR permit holders and consultants – two groups the state agency has ongoing relationships with. This year’s respondents also included environmental advocates, owners of small businesses, and government workers.


The survey shows improvements in the average ratings for every category the department measured, meaning respondents found DENR employees in 2013 to be more approachable, transparent and fair than in 2011. Categories were ranked from a score of 1, which would indicate poor performance, up to a 5, which indicates excellent performance. Average responses in 2011 ranged from between 2.9 and 3.5 overall. But average responses in 2013 improved from between 3.3 and 4.4 overall. For being helpful, factual and accurate, and easy to work with, DENR scored between 3.3 and 3.4 in 2011 but improved in those same three categories to 4.1 in 2013.


A complete report will be released soon and posted to DENR’s website. Skvarla said the department plans to conduct more frequent surveys than in the past to help the agency improve its core mission.


“DENR exists to serve the public, so we certainly like to hear that we’re improving in the opinions of our customers,” Skvarla said.

“But we can’t stop now. You need to frequently take the pulse of your customers and seek out new ways to improve your services. That’s why we’re here.”

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